Friday, October 3, 2014

Marching to His Own Beat

Of all the instruments you could ask your child to show an early interest in, which would you choose, if — unlike every other facet of their development — you actually had a choice?

Maybe you'd like little Sally to pick up the harp?

Perhaps it'd be great if that little scamp Cody instantaneously became obsessed with the flute?

Maybe you're more of a piano person? 

Now, let's inverse the question. 

If you could pick an instrument for you child to never be interested in, for them to avoid from cradle to high school graduation, what would it be?

(Insert Jeopardy theme song here.)
The boy and his big, bag of fun and mostly quiet builder blocks

You said, "Well, the drums, of course!" didn't you?

Sure you did, because any thinking person who values sleep, the ability to think and/or formulate thoughts, and who enjoys the occasional quiet moment also knows that drums threaten all of these things more so than any other instrument. 

So, naturally, what instrument is the boy gravitating toward? 

(Insert rimshot here.)

From pens, to a little wooden batton, the boy picks up any thing and every stick-like object and attempts to hold a beat to whatever song is playing and, in our home, there is almost always something playing.

"Sticks! Sticks!" is an oft-repeated refrain when the boy wants to get his percussion fix. He also says "Dwums! Dwums!"

And, you know, I can't complain. 

When I was younger, I took piano lessons for a time. As I grew up, I stopped. In middle school I learned to play the viola and then I stopped. 

Throughout all of this, I always found myself tapping a beat more than singing or air guitaring. Percussion was the musical element that appealed most to me and, for a while, I had a kit that I played incessantly. 

But, drums take up a lot of room and they don't travel well, so I've been relegated to air drumming for some time now. (In related news, air drumming — especially when you're in your mid 30s — is extremely cool and in no way illustrative that one is desperately cleaving to one's long-evaporated youth.) 


The boy will beat on tables, the floor, books, cupboards and other toys to name a few favored spots. He'll also clutch onto his "sticks" while running around the house, a practice we are forever discouraging. Slips and falls are bad enough without that added danger, thank you very much.

So the boy likes drums — for now. 
Naturally, Mrs. Blackwell is on board to a degree that makes one struggle to conceive of ways to augment the term "on board."

It's been a couple of months now since we first noticed the boy's interest. About two weeks ago our first toy drum kit arrived in the mail. 

The boy loves it but, like all toys, it disassembles when breathed upon.  So Mrs. Blackwell and I are forever re-attaching the little toms and the symbol to the bass drum.  

(Note: avoid doing business with "Cruel Irony Toy Company.") 

As you can see from the video above, some kids really take to the instrument at an early age. We expect the boy to similarly master the drums and embark on a lucrative career before he reaches pre-school just enjoy playing and see where it takes him.

The upside is that his musical choices are expanding. We've grown from The Beatles. But, thanks to Mrs. Blackwell's lifelong love affair with Paul McCartney, they'll always be part of the picture. 

So, we're mixing in more drum heavy bands, like AC/DC. "Back in Black" is a current favorite. 

It's all very cool, though I wonder how long this interest will last and, if it does, what that means for him and us.  For now, I'll put that worry aside. 

Today, we can include among his interests, books (reading or throwing them will do), drumming and knocking over towers of Duplo blocks. Not a bad place to be. 

The boy also hasn't played R. Kelly's "Remix to Ignition" in about a week so, if for no other reason, I'm grateful for this development. 

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